Resident Evil fans have been torn in two ever since the exceptional Resident Evil 4 came along and changed the series' focus from survival-horror to a more action styled approach. Some enjoy the slow-paced tense original games and others enjoy the over the shoulder shooting. Resident Evil 4 combined the approached perfectly, but ever since, the two camps have not been getting along nicely.
Creator Shinji Mikami explained to IGN why the series had to make the change, and go figure! It's about money!
According to him, the Resident Evil remake for the Nintendo GameCube failed to meet Capcom's sales expectations, despite the creator proclaiming it to be one of his favorites in the series. The poor sales gave him a "trauma" and he decided action would be the way to go.
"Maybe there weren't many people ready to accept that. Because of the reaction to the Resident Evil remake, I decided to work more action into Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 would have been a more scary, horror-focused game if the remake had sold well."
And the series has stuck with the style ever since, even after Shinji Mikami's departure to Platinum Games and eventually Tango Gameworks.
The Resident Evil remake for the GameCube sold 1.35 million copies worldwide, which was pretty average back in a time when sales expectations were more reasonable. I fondly remember Shinji Mikami, in one of his more prima donna moments, taking to the internet and complaining loudly about all the kids who had chosen to buy Kingdom Hearts instead of his game.
I would love to post a link, but it's been over a decade and many of the news sources no longer exist. Some forums still have the translation on record, though. It should be clear though that the GameCube was never the wide success the PlayStation 2 was and the larger user base certainly must have helped Square at the time.
Resident Evil 4 sold only 1.6 million copies on the GameCube, which is not that big of a difference, but then sales picked up once it spread to more successful consoles like the PlayStation 2, Wii, and HD versions on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A much more fitting statistic for one of the best games ever made.
Resident Evil 5 also sits pretty high on of the highest selling in the franchise across the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC platforms. The action approach isn't always successful, though. Resident Evil 6 had knocked the series down a peg or two and didn't sell that well, and there is no telling how Capcom intends to get it back on its feet.
In the meantime, Shinji Mikami is lightning up the next-gen hype train with his exciting new survivial-horror title, The Evil Within. It just goes to show that it's people behind these franchises, not the franchises themselves, that guarantee success.
Where do you stand on Resident Evil? I never especially enjoyed the series up until Resident Evil 4, but I haven't been blown away by it ever since either. Maybe hitting the mark perfectly between action and straight survival horror is the only way to get casual fans involved.